Kresge at 100: Celebrating The Kresge Foundation’s Century of Impact and Future of Opportunity

This very special evening features a lineup of distinguished speakers including former President Barack Obama, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Kresge Chair Cecilia Muñoz and President/CEO Rip Rapson, and a jam-packed program of Detroit’s eclectic and talented performers. 

In its 100 years of work The Kresge Foundation has touched innumerable lives.

Known for its capital challenge grants, which have supported the building of universities, hospitals, museums, community centers and more, the organization has spent recent years expanding equity and opportunity in America’s cities by investing in arts and culture, higher education, environmental stewardship, health, human services and community development. 

This event celebrates a century of Kresge’s achievements and looks to its future of making progress possible as Detroit PBS presents “Kresge at 100,” which premieres on Friday, June 21 @ 8 p.m. on Detroit PBS. It includes a very special appearance by former President, the Hon. Barack Obama, who sits down with Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson for a fireside chat. This event was held at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Detroit PBS’ Satori Shakoor, host of “Detroit Performs: Live from Marygrove,” founder of The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers and a 2017 Kresge Artist Fellow herself, emcees the extravaganza. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and The Kresge Foundation Board of Trustees Chair Cecilia Muñoz deliver remarks about Kresge’s extensive work and its far-reaching impact. Afterwards, there will be an airing of the film, “An American Philanthropy: Kresge’s 100 Years of Service,” which chronicles the history and stories of The Kresge Foundation’s century of grantmaking. 

The "Kresge at 100" event showcases our essential role as a trusted media partner in Detroit, and our strong relationship with The Kresge Foundation exemplifies the trust that highly regarded organizations place in us.

Former President Hon. Barack Obama

Former community organizer, civil rights attorney, law professor, Illinois state senator and U.S. senator from Illinois, Barack Obama was elected the 44th U.S. president and the first African American U.S. president in 2008. He was re-elected in 2012.

His administration was a crucial ally to the city of Detroit. When Chrysler and General Motors teetered on the brink of financial collapse, the Obama administration formed a task force to develop rescue plans for the ailing corporations. After Detroit entered bankruptcy in 2013, the administration crafted a $320 million package of federal, state and private aid and tasked assistant U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Don Graves to oversee recovery efforts.

Since leaving the presidency, Obama’s efforts have included overseeing the development of the Obama Presiden­tial Center on Chicago’s South Side and the Obama Foundation with a mission “to help people turn hope into action — to inspire, empower and connect them to change their world.”

Hon. Mike Duggan - Mayor, City of Detroit

Mike Duggan became the 75th mayor of the city of Detroit in January 2014 and is currently serving his third four-year term. A former Wayne County deputy executive, Wayne County prosecutor and president and CEO of the Detroit Medical Center, Duggan was first elected mayor in the midst of the city’s bankruptcy when it could not deliver the most basic services due to broken processes and loss of tax base.

Under Mayor Duggan’s leadership, 35,000 vacant homes have been removed or renovated, city services have become reliable, and the city’s credit rating has improved to within one notch of investment grade. His successes in recent years include landing major employers such as Stellantis’ new Jeep assembly plant, GM’s Factory Zero and Ford’s Michigan Central campus, all of which have helped drive down Detroit’s unemployment rate to a record low of 4.8%. The recent NFL Draft gave Duggan a major platform to tout the city’s successes.

Rip Rapson - President & CEO, The Kresge Foundation

Rip Rapson has served as president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation since 2006, transforming it from a foundation that funded building projects to one that uses grants and other tools to build and strengthen pathways to opportunity for people with low incomes living in America’s cities, including in its hometown of Detroit.

He previously served as president of the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, where he led early childhood development efforts, created a regional public-private-philanthropic economic development organization, and enhanced environmental protections along the Mississippi River.

He earlier served as the deputy mayor of Minneapolis, with responsibility for designing a $400 million neighborhood revitalization program, revamping the municipal budgeting process and elevating the city’s commitment to children and families.

Cecilia Muñoz - Board Chair, The Kresge Foundation

Cecilia Muñoz joined The Kresge Foundation Board of Trustees in 2017 and assumed the role of board chair in March 2022. She is a national expert on public policy and public interest technology with deep roots in Detroit and the civil rights movement.

In 2000, she earned a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” for work on civil rights and immigration before serving eight years in the Obama administration, as director of intergovernmental affairs and director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Following her tenure in the White House, Muñoz joined the think tank New America in 2016 and left its staff for its board of directors in 2023. In 2020, she led domestic and economic policy for the Biden-Harris Transition Team. She is the author of “More Than Ready: Be Strong and Be You...and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise.”

Performances

The evening continues with an incredible roster of standout performances, showcasing some of the best and brightest talent from Detroit, including:
Thornetta Davis

Thornetta Davis

“Detroit’s Queen of the Blues,” Thornetta Davis is a singer, songwriter and recording artist who has captivated audiences across the United States and abroad for over 30 years. Davis has shared the stage with legendary blues and R&B greats, including Ray Charles, Etta James and Buddy Guy. Her many awards include the Living Lifetime Achievement Award from the Detroit Blues Society, a star on the Canada South Blues Museum Walk of Fame, and Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year at the Blues Music Awards. She was named a Kresge Artist Fellow in 2018.

Detroit Youth Choir

Detroit Youth Choir

Founded in 1996 as a nonprofit to develop metro Detroit youth ages 8-18 through education in music, dance and theatrical arts, the Detroit Youth Choir has had a slow but sure ascent to fame since artistic director Anthony White took the helm in 2001. Their big break came in 2019 on “America’s Got Talent” when they finished in second place. Earlier this year the choir members were featured in “Choir,” their own Disney+ docuseries which was praised in the Detroit Free Press for “the empathy it has for members of the Motor City’s best-known youth vocal group but also because of how honest it is about the commitment it takes to be a member.”

Gabriel Brass Band

Gabriel Brass Band

The Gabriel Brass Band honors the rich history of New Orleans music while bringing fun and funk to audiences around Detroit and beyond. Spearheaded by sixth-generation musician Dameon Gabriel, the band includes other Gabriel family members and a host of close friends. Together they continue the musical heritage that elder Gabriels brought to the Motor City from the Crescent City in the 1940s, a legacy that dates back to the 1850s.

Satori Shakoor

Satori Shakoor

Satori Shakoor is a storyteller, writer, actor, comedian, social entrepreneur and a 2017 Kresge Artist Fellow. She received early recognition as a background singer and recording artist as one of the Brides of Funken- stein in George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic. Satori toured the country as Moth main stage performer and host before founding The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers® in Detroit and hosting the Twisted Storytellers program and podcast for WDET. She also hosts “Detroit Performs Live from Marygrove” produced by Detroit PBS.

About The Kresge Foundation:  

One of America’s greatest contributions to humankind is its culture of philanthropy, and The Kresge Foundation is a chief example of an organization that recognizes its civic responsibility to give back to those communities in which it thrived.  

The Foundation was established in Detroit by Sebastian Spering Kresge, whose retail empire, the S.S. Kresge Co., brought low-priced goods to the masses through five-and-dime stores and later Kmart. Like those stores, the organization was laser-focused on the lives of average people in its work: people who aspired to get an education, improve their communities, practice the arts, advance racial equity and access opportunities. 

The Kresge Foundation has worked to expand equity and opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investment in Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans and Fresno. In collaboration with its partners, it has helped create pathways for people with low incomes to improve their life circumstances. 

Since it was established over a century ago, The Kresge Foundation has distributed more than $5.1 billion to over 16,500 grantees, touching innumerable lives. 

Here in Detroit, The Kresge Foundation has generously supported the Detroit Institute of Arts and many other organizations. Kresge’s support has underscored the DIA’s crucial role shaping the cultural identity of Detroit and has contributed to the vitality and evolution of the entire region. For example, Kresge has sponsored the Detroit Industry Murals by Diego Rivera in the Kresge Court, along with the Detroit Arts Support program and assumed a leading role in the 2014 “Grand Bargain,” which secured the DIA’s art collection in perpetuity.  

Under Rip Rapson’s leadership, the organization has been instrumental in changing the trajectory of Detroit, by immersing itself in diverse areas such as urban planning, transportation, capital formation, leadership development, neighborhood revitalization, the arts and early childhood education, among others. Some of these Kresge-funded projects include the transformation of the Marygrove campus in Detroit into a cradle-to-career educational hub, Detroit’s Midtown Woodward Corridor and more recent work advancing the just energy transition through the adoption of solar in low-income communities.